Next-gen telecom to turbocharge China's new productivity

(Xinhua) 15:30, April 20, 2024

BEIJING, April 20 (Xinhua) -- China is pushing for the convergence of next-generation communication with technologies such as big data, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI), aiming to empower various industries and development of new quality productive forces.

With innovation playing the leading role, new quality productive forces means advanced productivity that is freed from traditional economic growth mode and productivity development paths, features high-tech, high efficiency and high quality.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has reported that 5G applications have been successfully integrated into 74 of the 97 major sectors of the national economy.

This includes significant advancements in key areas such as industry, mining, power, and healthcare, where 5G is being promoted on a large scale.

Zhao Zhiguo, chief engineer of the MIIT, stated that 5G is currently progressing towards 5G-Advanced (5GA) or 5.5G, and there is an increased focus on the research and development of 6G and terabit optical networks.

According to a research by Zhongtai Securities, 5G-A is poised to become a cornerstone for the low-altitude economy, offering comprehensive information services that include lifecycle management, intelligent decision support, security, and AI-assisted drone supervision.

These capabilities are essential for the safe and efficient operation of low-altitude flights, a burgeoning sector within the economy and an example of developing new quality productive forces.

New quality productive forces are driven by revolutionary technological breakthroughs, innovative allocation of production factors, and deep industrial transformation and upgrading. A prime example is the emergence of futuristic industries.

The MIIT and several other departments have issued a guideline on the innovation and development of humanoid robots as part of efforts to encourage development of new quality productive forces, said Shan Zhongde, vice minister of industry and information technology.

A research note from Guosheng Securities said the humanoid robot market is expected to surpass the trillion-yuan mark in market scale in the future, with 6G playing a significant role in this growth. It will be capable of supporting intelligent dialogue and training for robots by gradually enhancing their level of intelligence.

The research suggests that 6G will boast features such as ultra-high speed, ultra-low latency, global coverage, massive connectivity, ultra-high reliability, and ultra-low energy consumption. It is expected to fuel development of game-changing technologies like quantum communication.

Smart manufacturing is the core technology and main focus that will enable the transformation of China's manufacturing industry from being large in scale to becoming stronger in capability and competitiveness, said Shan.

To this end, China is improving infrastructure including moderately and proactively planning for the deployment of information infrastructure such as 5G, computing power, and mobile Internet of Things (IoT).

In March, the world's first 400G all-optical interprovincial backbone network officially became commercially available in China.

Compared to the previous generation of backbone networks, its transmission bandwidth has increased by four times, and the energy consumption per bit has been reduced by 65 percent. Data volumes that would previously take ten minutes to transmit can now be completed in just over two minutes thanks to the new network developed by China Mobile.

It is expected that by mid-2024, the company will fully realize high-speed interconnection between the eight hubs of an initiative channeling computing resources from the country's east to the west, establishing the world's largest 400G all-optical interprovincial backbone network.

Zhao emphasized that the commercial operation of the 400G network will better support the efficient interconnection of computing power and data elements across entities, types, and regions.

An industry report from a broadband development alliance indicates that China has built the world's largest and technologically leading "dual-gigabit" network infrastructure, achieving gigabit access in every city, 5G access in every county, and broadband access in every village.

The telecom industry in China has developed rapidly in recent years. As of the end of March, the cumulative number of 5G base stations built nationwide has reached 3.647 million, with a 5G user penetration rate exceeding 60 percent, according to MIIT data.

As China continues to lift market access restrictions in the manufacturing sector, it will also promote the opening up of sectors including telecommunications to create more trade and investment opportunities for foreign investors.

In its latest move to expand opening up, China said that it will remove foreign ownership restrictions on some value-added telecom services provided within domestic pilot areas.

By the end of March this year, 1,926 foreign-funded enterprises had been approved to operate telecommunications businesses in China.

By aligning itself with high-standard international economic and trade rules, the country aims to stimulate the vitality of market entities and share the development dividends of its digital economy with the world, said Wang Zhiqin, deputy director of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.

(Web editor: Zhang Wenjie, Liang Jun)


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